Friday, 14 June 2013

Discovering South Korea: Jeju Part 1

Date of Travel: 20-23 May 2013

We traveled to Jeju for a 4 days 3 nights trip, after Busan. We arrived on the evening of 20th May and left for Seoul on the afternoon on 23rd May. So technically, we only had 2 full days in Jeju. I will split the post into two parts, as I'm afraid it might get too long!

Click the link if you want my planned itinerary. Or if you're interested to know my estimated costs. Remember, we did not follow the exact route planned as the trip should be open to new ideas and developments!

Air Busan

Air Busan
I don't normally do reviews or posts about airlines, but Air Busan deserves special mention. Their boarding time is 15 mins before take off (or rather before the planes taxis to take off), and gates closes 5 mins before take off. I don't know if they're just really efficient in getting everyone on board in 15 mins or Koreans are generally on time which results a timely take off. I was expecting some delays of about 15-20 mins but no! The plane actually started taxi-ing on time!

We were really tired, so we fell asleep shortly. However, we were awoken by a loud announcement and a lot of excitement among the passengers. Obviously, we could not understand anything, but after looking around, we realized the stewardess were conducting a lucky draw! The boy beside me won Starbucks vouchers.

Also, Air Busan's magazine on the plane features several attractions around South Korea. And if you present your boarding pass at the counter of those attractions, you get discounts off your entrance fees! Like we had 10% discount off our entrance tickets to Teddy Bear Museum.

Did I mention that they also allow check in luggage of up to 15kg? Actually, most of the budget/domestic airlines in Korea provide this service.

KT Kumho
KT Kumho
So, we rented a car in Jeju as it would be more convenient to get around the island. I've heard horror stories about how people were waiting for a bus for about 30-45 mins in the hot sun, so how the distance of the bus stops to the attractions were so far, they took a cab in, and when they couldn't get out to the main road, they stopped a car to beg them to give a lift out to the main road.

No, I did not want that to happen to us. Since there are 4 of us, and all four has driving license, why not rent a car!!!

Hyundai Sonata
After doing some research and reading lots of reviews, I decided to choose KT Kumho because it's affordable to rent from them! The trick is to create an online account with them, and you're able to get huge discounts as a member (same goes for certain Korean domestic airlines too). For mine, I got up to 75% discount off the original price. After adding full immunity (in case of accidents or scratches), I only paid about 151,000 Won for 4 days 3 nights! You divide it by four, and you have a budgeted transportation! 

Remember to email them in advance for confirmation and also to tell them that you need an English GPS/Navigation. According to my Korean Colleague, who helped me to call them up, it's based on first come first serve basis. Also, keep the telephone numbers of the attractions you want to do, so that you could just key in the telephone number into the navigation, and it will show you the route. Even though the navigation is in English, the addresses are still in Korea, so it may prove to be a challenge.

We rented a Hyundai Sonata. It's so damn spacious, and the boot size is so huge, you can fit 3 persons inside! Definitely enough space for all our luggage! 

Rainbow in Jeju
Rainbow in Jeju Hostel
Address: 1289-20, ido 1-dong, Jeju City, Jeju Island
제주시 이도1 1289-20번지 (상록회관 )
Tel: +82 70-7635-0075

We stayed quite near the airport, about 10-15 mins away, which was good for us, as we didn't have to drive very far when we had to send our friends to the airport (they had an earlier flight to Seoul, than us) or to return the car. 

Even with the navigation, it was initially quite difficult to find the hostel, as the navigation could not register the telephone number the hostel provided. So we rang them up to ask them for the address. Eventually, we manage to find our way there! 

I really like this hostel. It is very cozy and homely, and every morning, you're to make your own breakfast. They will put eggs, bread and other spreads out, and if you want them, you have to cook it yourself. 

We took the 4 person dorm with en-suite and they had 2 double-decker beds for us. What I found really impressive was that they had curtains around your bed and a night reading light attached to your bed rail, so you could continue doing your things without disturbing anyone else! & they had free laundry & wifi too!

Small Little Korean Shop

So, we arrived at the hostel at almost 9pm. We were all starving and craving for some good Korean... ANYTHING! We were soooo hungry, we walked around the hostel's vicinity, but all the small little shops and restaurants were closed! We walked and got more depressed, and we finally found this hole in the wall. I think the Ajuma has closed for the day, but she was just watching TV. We went in and asked if she could cook us something, anything! She agreed after we asked for just Ramyeon. It was one of the best Ramyeon I ever had, because we were so hungry!!


U-do Island

We wanted to go visit some attractions around the South of Jeju, but after talking to a guy at the hostel, he really recommended going to U-do Island for the view, scenery and all the fun!

We drove to Seongsan Harbour (found it's telephone number in the tourist map and routed our way there!) and took a ferry to U-do island.

Ferry to U-do Island!
It will cost 11,000 Won for a car and 4,000 Won per person to get on the ferry. We had to reverse our car onto the ferry, and it took Sock a lot of mad skills and bravery.

U-do Island Scenery!
 The roads in U-do Island are very small and narrow, it's really quite scary when you have BUSES coming in the opposite direction. In the end, we just parked our car aside and rented an ATV for 20,000 Won for 2 hours!
 The ATV could go quite fast! It was such a hot and sunny day, but because of the cool weather and wind, we all got a little sun burned and we didn't even realized it.

Haenyo Divers

After riding the ATV along the coastal route, we saw a group of Haenyo Divers (literally meaning 'Sea Women'. It's a dying trade and most of the divers are in their 50s and older!

Horse Riding
 After returning the ATV, we drove up to climb the hill. I forgot what the name if the hill/mountain is called, but I've heard that it provides a better view as compared to Sunrise Peak! At the foot of the hill, you're able to ride horses as well! We paid 10,000 Won for about 5-8 mins. The horses started to canter and I thought I was going to fall off the horse!

Beautiful view!
The hill/mountain was very steep and they placed rubber mats and strips to aid climbers up the hill. Without those rubber strips, I would have slipped and rolled down the hill in record time!

We left U-do Island at about 3pm and took the 3.30pm ferry back to Jeju!

Trick Art Museum

Trick Art Museum
We had 10% discount because we presented our Air Busan boarding pass. We paid about 7,000 Won for each person. There's nothing much to this place, just visually exciting with the different angles and dimensions make the painting look like it's 3D. We pretty much finished the place in about 15-20 mins.

Mangungul Lava Tube Cave

Lava Tubes
Address: 3341-3, Gimnyeong-ri, Gujwa-eup, Jeju-si, Jeju-do
제주 제주시 구좌읍 김령리 3341-3
Tel: +82-64-783-4818
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm
Admission: W2, 000

Outside the cave, the weather and temperature is nice and warm, but once you start to descend the steps into the cave, the temperature starts to drop drastically. In the heart of the cave, the temperature was 13 Degrees Celsius! So, please remember to bring a light jacket/windbreaker along with you. There's no wind inside the cave, so it was bearable for Kenneth who refused to bring any jacket along with him! Also, you have to wear proper shoes as there's water puddles throughout the whole 1km route into the cave and it may be slippery. Cold water will sometimes drip on you too from the roof of the cave.

Many centuries (?) ago, this cave was where lava used to flow through to the surface. Throughout the cave, there are many signages and panels educating you on how the cave was formed, how the lava was so hot, the roof (made from natural rocks) started to melt and when it cooled, resulting in spikes on the roof. The only way in, is the only way out, so you walk 1km into the cave, and at the end, there's a lava rock pillar, take photos, and then make a U-turn and walk 1km back out.

Black Pork Street
Black Pork Street
The guy at the hostel recommended this street when we asked him where can we find awesome black pork Korean BBQ! As usual at a Korean BBQ, small dishes of Kimchi, Radish, and other preserved veges were given to us. If I am not wrong, we ordered the set menu for 4 persons which cost us 78,000 Won. In addition, we ordered steamed egg and seafood soup as well. Total, we paid about 100,000 Won for 4 people. 

The pork they gave us were big pieces! Do not be alarmed as you're supposed to cut it up to small pieces and use the lettuce leaves they provide to wrap it up with a bit of Kimchi or other preserved vegetables and eat the whole thing! It was so awesome and I ate a lot, it gave me a sore throat the next day.


Check out my posts to other parts of South Korea here:


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